Dubai: UAE carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have resumed limited passenger flights two weeks after authorities grounded airlines as part of wider shutdowns to combat coronavirus.
The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the United Arab Emirates, but no incoming passengers are allowed. Foreign residents of the oil-rich Gulf state are banned from re-entering until at least mid-April.
Dubai’s Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East, said it operated a flight to London late Sunday and another to Frankfurt on Monday as part of its limited resumption.
It said in a statement that it plans to operate four flights a week to London and three weekly flights each to Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich.
Wearing face masks and other protective gear at Dubai Airport on Monday, some 212 travellers to Frankfurt went through thermal screening before they boarded the aircraft.
Etihad said on its Twitter account that it resumed limited operation with a passenger flight to Seoul on Sunday.
The carrier said it will operate seven flights to Seoul, five to Singapore, six to Manila and two flights to Jakarta through April 21.
Last week Emirates said that cleaning and disinfection of the planes will take place after each flight.
UAE civil aviation authorities slapped a total ban on passenger flights two weeks ago at all the Gulf state’s airports.
But the two carriers on Thursday were issued approvals for limited flights to repatriate stranded foreigners.
Coronavirus cases in UAE
The UAE, which groups seven emirates including Dubai, has declared 2,076 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.
It has imposed a sweeping crackdown, including the flight ban and closure of borders, shopping malls, entertainment centres and markets.
A 24-hour curfew was introduced on Thursday following a big jump in the number of cases in the oil-rich UAE where some 10 million people live, 90 percent of them expatriates.
Coronavirus cases worldwide
More than 1,310,930 declared coronavirus cases have been registered in 191 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December.
The number of fatalities from the virus rose to 73,139.